Tag: search

Death Knol or death knell?

Less than a week after Google rolled out Knol, its “Wikipedia killer”, the blogosphere has decided to whip itself into a frenzy. The major cause of the consternation – Google seems to be ranking Knol pages, which are supposed to be filled with content from a never-ending and every-increasing number of “experts”, a bit higher than the average SEO junkie might suspect.

Sounds like competition to me.

Is Google bad or is Google good? I don’t think the “experts” really know for sure, but I do see a pattern emerging. When blogs became popular, those working behind the scenes figured out that comments and trackbacks were a good way to generate search engine attention – and they latched onto the best ranked blogs. When the search engines figured this out, they appealed to the best of the best to add the “nofollow” tag to their discussion threads to weed out the scum. The big blogs agreed, I believe out of fear that Google would see discussions without the tag and bump down the renegades accordingly. All was well, as the favored few remained high on the first page list.

Unfortunately, content creators are now coming under increasing stress. The sole business motive, advertising, is showing signs of weakness. Purveyors of online expertise are crying for folks to click on their ads – they ask “why give the money to Google?”. Meanwhile, they beg at Google’s feet for traffic – it’s the proverbial biting of the hand that feeds you.

What’s even more odd about all this, and what would clue the average internet surfer into how badly the tech blogosphere needs a twenty-ton dose of Ritalin, is that the crowd waited until the day after they pounced on Cuil, a potential Google search competitor, before releasing their joint statement on the evil Knol. Yes, after giving a well-publicized Google search competitor a general thumbs neutral/negative (not entirely unearned, since Cuil had major technical problems on the day of its launch) the virtual chatterbox moves on to complain about the fact that Google might be infringing on their territory by juicing its own search results with competitive content.

Instead of recognizing the the signs of an impending threat and rallying behind the future generation, content creators are playing cards for the small pot instead of the final table. To be fair, some have a clue – seek alternatives and take action instead of pissing in the wind. Still, discussion revolves around quick fixes.

Budding surgeons don’t pass their boards by suggesting band-aids for severed femoral arteries, and it seems much of the tech blogosphere forgot their hemostats on this trip to the operating room.

A Cuil Roundup (and countdown to acquisition starts today)

Cuil, the latest “Google killer”…

Cuil is getting a lot of coverage – it’s on the front page of Drudge too…


It makes me think that the long standing love affair with the Google brand is fading (or has already faded). That, or folks need something to write about on a Monday morning and Cuil has a good PR team.

In the long run, I suspect the mainsteam is going to catch the buzz and type “COOL” dot com into their browsers, much to a domain squatter’s pleasure. But I don’t think that is going to matter – Cuil launched today, but that doesn’t mean it was created yesterday, nor were it’s founders or funders born yesterday either. The company was founded in ’05, and has garnered roughly $33 million over two rounds of funding (data here). Add the recent acquisition of Powerset (who itself had just launched) by Microsoft, and one could surmise Cuil won’t be independent very long.

With Google pushing into the content space with Knol, I’d be placing my bet on the flip-side – a traditional content producer (think major media) pushing back.

UPDATE: Fair is fair…ReadWriteWeb chimes in – Cuil is good, but not great.

UPDATE 2: Still more, from Forbes (including how Cuil got started).


Facebook’s $10 Billion Conundrum

Some good points within on the difference between ads within networks and ads delivered via search.

Browser picks up breadcrumbs

A “new” browser technology is being launched that automatically deletes caches, browsing history, cookies and saved forms. I wouldn’t exactly call this new, as anyone with the latest version of Firefox knows. Maybe Mozilla needs another public relations firm.

Nevertheless, there is a “new” feature coming in Browzar – supposedly a toolbar that points to a custom search engine for results. Hmm. As former Internet Explorer users privacy wonks get to searching, I wonder how long it will be until law enforcement gets to subpoena-ing.

I’d rather have a browser independent of my search results. Firefox gives you that flexibility. Combined with any number of internet/system cache cleaners, and you are A-okay from the desktop. My combination of choice is Firefox and/or a hacked Safari (yes, there are alternatives to Google for Safari users – see here). CacheOut X from NoName Scriptware cleans out stray cookies, browsing history, and miscellaneous scripts (and when I run out of tin-foil hats, user and system logs, etc. as well). I am sure there is a Windows equivalent. If you really want to drive your ISP nuts as well, throw in TOR/Privoxy (available to all).


Law enforcement won’t be much of a worry after all – Browzer may not make it past a dozen users. It seems, as Michael Arrington and others point out, that Browzer may be nothing more than an adware machine.


More “Browzing” at Web3.0log. I hope the founders didn’t spend a lot of money or time on this thing, as it is looking dead already.

Obscuring search requests does not work

Or at least that is what Bruce Schneier is suggesting.

TrackMeNot is a Firefox plugin that is supposed to do just that, by sending random search queries out to engines while you are doing something besides searching for porn and bomb-making instructions.

It sounds to me like it just makes for lengthier data mining periods, and a good chance you will eventually get your IP address blocked by search engines. Of course, you could use an anonymizer to prevent the latter, then you only have to worry about your browser eating up 99.99% of your CPU cycles waiting for results.

Google and Government Flip and Flop

Google just avoided providing the government with person-specific search data, but has to lift the hood on their engine for them nonetheless (whatever the hell that means).

Meanwhile, the center of the internet universe (according to some) has been ordered by a Federal Magistrate to turn over some crook’s Gmail account data, including any deleted emails.

With the search stuff, who cares? Everyone looking for bad stuff on the net most likely already knows where to find it. But in the second regard, I’d say this is a nail in the coffin for free, web-based email services. Even those folks (like me) who use services like Gmail on a “POP only, Delete After Download” basis now get to wonder when and where all those emails they thought they deleted might…well…er…pop up again.

I suspect that for many, Gmail is the defacto address for every Craigslist communication and email newsletter they don’t really want, so its not a problem. But, if you use such services to correspond with the attorneys forming your irrevocable trust, or set up meeting times with the boyfriend or girlfriend your husband or wife doesn’t know about, I’d say you could get finely screwed (not that you aren’t already, in either case). If these services become useless for anything but cat and mouse games with internet marketers, I don’t see longevity in them.

Of course, if your surreptitious liaison schedule is already wrapped in one of those extremely long encryption keys you generated for the sender, you aren’t going to care who gets their hands on that email – you’ll be the one in the coffin before anyone gets around to reading it.

Your Google search queries may not be yours

googlesearch.jpgI do check site stats – I am usually looking for what other people are looking for – keywords that got them here. I don’t try putting two and two together, to figure out who looked for what, and I don’t adjust postings based on keywords (unless I get a request to remove a name or something like that). It is more about curiousity than anything else. Seems that the federal government is curious about what people are searching for too, as they are after Google’s personalized search results.

I was tired of hacking the Safari search bar to use my preferred engine in place of Apple’s hardcoded Google “suggestion” (something that has to been done everytime the browser gets cued for a regular patch), and was using Google again over the last month. I just cleaned up those personalized results from Google, after getting tired of it making suggestions for me as well.

By the way, Google has NOT turned over any results to the government – how long they can hold off subpoenas is anyone’s guess. The Feds say they need the data for research into how often pornography shows up in online searches, but with all the chatter about spying and so forth, I just have to wonder…

Why isn’t the government just running their own queries?

What do you need?

I found out about a cute trick while browsing Frank Anderson’s Blingo Buzz. Pop your name into a search bar, followed by the word “needs” and see what the results tell you.

What do I need? As it turns out:

– open lines of communication;
– juice;
– a bit more flesh; and
– some dependable adults in my life.

I could also use a hole in my head, but who’s asking.

Is it spam, or just another piece of meat for the table?

I ran across Mike’s Marketing Tools while doing some research for a colleague on shady SEO practices. Under it, I found Ten Controversial Search Engine Optimization Techniques, and stopped there.

Seven mentions of the word “spam” in a ten point list of SEO trickery.


Ad Trends and Analysts

Once again, stock analysts cannot make up their minds about the search advertising model. Month on month, these guys swing recommendations like Babe Ruth swung at fastballs – with reckless abandon and little emphasis on quality. The latest is a flip flop by the folks over at RBC Capital Markets (see Google, Yahoo! Ripped).

Now, I have to give some minor credit, as the companies in question cannot proceed on their tracks forever. But putting in fairly aggressive buy recomendation in January, only to reduce the price target by close to 20% in February, leads me to believe that they really have no idea what is going to happen.

They don’t. Running searches on a Windows 2000 workstations, crunching a one page spreadsheet with nary a variable built in which resembles the companies’ business model drivers, and then issuing a public press release, hardly qualifies these analysts as credible. But that is IMHO.

For further reading, see Sell-side Equity Analysts Continue Guessing.